001 – This House Isn’t Haunted

I recently came across a strange story about a haunted house that I’d like to share:

In a quiet corner of Cleveland, just outside the traditional ‘burbs, a young couple found their dream house.  It was a two story home at the end of a cul-de-sac with a two car garage, big back yard that adjoined a horse farm, and pretty much everything they ever wanted in a home.  The couple had a young son, four years old, with learning disabilities, and the house being on a court was perfect; they could let their son play and not have to worry as much about him running into traffic.  Best of all, the house was well within their budget, and it had sat open for a long time, so there would be no wait to move in.

They quickly made an offer, and before they knew it, they were closing on the house.  They were surprised that they weren’t going to get to meet the prior owners at the closing, but they were told that an attorney was handling “all of the estate matters”, so they took that to mean the previous owners had passed away.  The house itself was built in the 1950s, and the prior owners had been the only occupants, so the couple was not entirely surprised.

They moved in happily that very day, and began the process of painting and setting up the house to their liking. They put their son in a bedroom adjacent to theirs, and converted another bedroom to a play room for him.  They child proofed the house and decorated in warm, summer colors.

Then, about a week or two after they moved in, the son came to the parents’ room complaining of a monster in his room.  This was nothing special, of course, and the parents quickly showed him there was nothing to be afraid of, but the boy insisted that when they left, an old man would suddenly appear at the end of the bed.  He called the old man “Grumpy,” like the dwarf from Disney’s Snow White.  He said Grumpy had shown up every night since they came to live there and that he didn’t want them there.

The couple didn’t pay much attention to this.  They were used to their child making up wild stories.  Then, one evening after working late in the den, the father caught a glimpse of a shape out of the corner of his eye. He thought it was an old man, tall and spindly, standing in the living room looking at him.  He turned, but the shape was gone.  He decided not to tell his wife, as she was far more superstitious than he was and would make a big deal out of it.  Over the course of the next week or so, he saw the image more and more, always out of the corner of his eye.  He could never get a clear look at the apparition.

In the mean time, the son was becoming more and more agitated about Grumpy visiting his bed every night.  He claimed Grumpy tried to hurt him, and twice had scratches that didn’t look like they were self-inflicted.  His mother became more and more concerned, and finally got her husband to admit that he, too, was seeing the old man in the house.  She immediately put two and two together and decided that it must be the ghost of the former owner, who didn’t want them in the house.  The husband was slow to agree, but couldn’t deny something strange seemed to be going on.

They tried to ignore the strange events, but the wife began to see the ghost as well, and their son refused to sleep in his room at night.  It was becoming intolerable, and they knew they had to do something.

The couple began investigating the history of the house, certain they would find that the previous owner had died there.  They went to their county auditor’s web site and found the name of the previous owners.  However, searching for local obituaries turned up nothing, and they found nothing about the house’s history in any searches in the local newspaper’s archives.  They continued to expand their search until, by complete coincidence, they found a match to the previous owners.  It wasn’t what they expected.

The prior owners were alive and well and living in Florida!  They had built the house in 1953 when they were in their early twenties.  In the early 2000s, they retired and put the house up for sale, but due to a number of different issues, it didn’t sell until the new couple came along.  The previous owners were the proud occupants of a condo near Miami Beach, not haunting their old digs!

The couple continued to search, certain there had to be something causing the apparent haunting in their home.  They looked into the history of the land, wondering if it might have once been a cemetery or some other hallowed place.  However, prior to being part of the suburbs, it had been a bean field, and before that it was forest land without any particular significance.  No battles were fought there, no blood shed that they could find. Finding themselves at a dead end, they gave up their research and resigned themselves to living with the unexplained phenomenon.

Not long after their search came to an end, an old friend came to visit.  This friend was, unbeknownst to the couple, something of a psychic, and she immediately picked up on the strange presence in the house.  She described the old man, and said his presence was strongest in the son’s room.  The couple begged her to help them get rid the spirit.  They held a pseudo-exorcism, and immediately the psychic claimed that the spirit was gone.  The family was relieved beyond words.

For a while, the psychic was right and the spirit was gone.  Months went by and the family settled into their home.  Then one night the couple was woken by their son screaming.  They ran to his room and both saw the image of the old man standing over the boy’s bed, one hand around the boy’s throat.  The spirit vanished as soon as both adults entered the room, but their son had to be rushed to the hospital with a partially crushed larynx.  The parents were thoroughly questioned by the police, as such injuries are usually indicative of abuse.  They didn’t buy the ghost story, but the boy’s statement when he awoke convinced them that the parents weren’t to blame.

The ghost didn’t show up again for several weeks, but the family was constantly on edge, and the wife refused to turn any light off in the house.  She even went so far as to install LED lights throughout the house so they would not burn out at night.  Their son began sleeping in their room again, and the couple became very stressed and unhappy.  They considered selling the house, but they couldn’t really afford to do so, especially so soon after they had bought the place.

They asked their psychic friend to return.  When she did, she felt the presence again, stronger than ever and angry at the attempt to eject it from its home.  They tried again to push the spirit out of the house, but this time it was clear that the exorcism hadn’t worked.  The psychic suggested they try to move out, or at least stay at a motel for a week, to see if perhaps the spirit was tied to them and not to the house.

They went to a local motel for a week, fearful that Grumpy would follow them.  Instead they slept peacefully and were only awakened by the alarm clock all week long.  They felt refreshed and renewed, and were prepared to face the spirit and force it from their home.  As they drove back home, they noticed that storm clouds were gathering, and as they turned on to their street, they saw that the black clouds seemed to frame their house.  The front door was wide open, and though they had left the long-burning LED lights on, the house was completely dark inside, like a black chasm before them.

The father got out of the car.  He made his wife and son stay behind.  He went up to the house, stepped inside cautiously, and disappeared into the darkness for several long minutes.  Finally, just as the wife was about to go after him, he stepped outside and closed the door, locking it behind him.  He walked quickly to the car and got in.  He told his wife they were going to put the house up for sale immediately, no matter the cost, and were going back to the motel.  The wife asked what she had seen inside.  The husband replied that there was a message on the living room wall, written in what he assumed was blood.  It read:

“This house is not haunted. I am not a ghost. Leave or die.”

The couple refused to return to the house, and paid a moving company to retrieve their stuff.  None of the movers mentioned the cryptic message or seeing anything odd. They managed to sell the house at a small loss.  The new owners have not, so far, reported any strange occurrences, and have lived there several years.  The couple and their son never had any further trouble and never saw Grumpy again.

What was in the house?  Not a ghost, but perhaps something like a ghost, but why this family and this house?  And why, if it wasn’t tied to the house, did it not follow them to the motel?  A creepy tale that may never have an answer.

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